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More Women Ministers In Kenya's New Government - 2003-01-06

The new government of Kenya has made good on its campaign promise to appoint more women to top positions. For the first time in the history of Kenyan politics, there are three women cabinet ministers, three women assistant ministers, and four permanent secretaries in the new Kibaki government. But critics say the number falls far short of the National Rainbow Coalition’s campaign promise of 30 percent women representation in government.

Beth Mugo is the new assistant minister for tourism and information. She says the appointments are a source of empowerment because it means that Kenya women are going to be involved in the decision making of different sectors of the economy.

Ms. Mugo says Kenyan women will continue to demand equal representation through some form of affirmative action because she says there are qualified Kenyan women in almost every profession.

Ms. Mugo is the cousin of Uhuru Kenyatta, the defeated KANU Party presidential candidate. But she says she did not betray her family ties by joining the opposition. Besides, Ms. Mugo says she has never been happy with the way KANU was running the country long before Uhuru Kenyatta became a presidential candidate. She says having been an opposition member for more than ten years, it would have looked cosmetic if she changed to KANU just because her cousin was running for president. In addition she says she was exercising her democratic choice. Beth Mugo spoke with English to Africa reporter James Butty. Click above links to listen or download Butty interview.